March 14, 2016 Facebook Twitter Linkedin

By Nicole Bullock, Communications & Media Relations

King’s Social Justice and Peace Studies (SJPS) alumna, Elise Dunn ’13 has turned her dreams into a reality.

Dunn accepted a SJPS offer to King’s in 2010 after her interests were sparked in poverty awareness and advocacy at a young age. With numerous family and high school trips under her belt to San José de Ocoa (the capital city of the province of San José in the Dominican Republic), Dunn knew that once she had completed her degree, returning to the Dominican Republic for further volunteer work in travelling, working, and living in the remote, mountainous regions of the Dominican Republic was a plausible way to put her degree to use.

Dunn returned to San Jose de Ocoa after graduating in 2013 to work specifically with Adesjo, (Asociación para el Desarrollo de San José de Ocoa). Adesjo in English translates to an institution of service and development dedicated to bettering the lives of the people in the province of Ocoa in the Dominican Republic one-community project at a time. Adesjo is committed to transparency, technical capacity, and community integration. Dunn’s family and her high school worked closely with Adesjo in their projects, therefore working with Adesjo again was important to her.  

After 2 years of full-time volunteering, Dunn was offered a paid position in January 2015 as a Group Coordinator/Translator, the same position she is currently in today. Her other ongoing tasks include developing an Adesjo webpage, and working to further expand to D.R.E.A.M.S (Dominican Republic Education and Medical Support) program from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

In February 2016, Dunn had the opportunity to coordinate and translate an 8-day intensive SJPS experiential learning trip led by King’s SJPS Associate Professor Dr. Allyson Larkin and Teaching Assistant Klaire Gain. Dunn spent the week coordinating the fine-itinerary details and translating Spanish for 14 King’s SJPS, Childhood and Social Institutions, and Social Work students. Dunn iterated, “I am happy with how I could assist in coordinating and translating for this trip. I am looking forward to developing improved itineraries for groups in the future where I can devote more time to each planned destination in order for students to gain a better understanding of what is going on. I am also interested in seeing more than just SJPS students involved. After spending the week with this group, I have gained interest in Dominican Republic issues I had never been involved with, such as gold mining and self-sustaining communities.”

After 3 years in the Dominican Republic, Dunn has no plans to return home to live and work in Canada. She encourages others in situations such as hers to take the opportunities that come or make the opportunities happen – you just may love what you do and stay.